Liberia: Lawmaker Wants Robust Enforcement of Liberia's Forest Law

Ganta, Nimba County — House's Committee Chair on Ways, Means and Finance, Representative Thomas P. Fallah, has called for the enforcement of policy governing Liberia's forest sector.

Fallah said timbers and other resources from the forest are important to fast track Liberia's development drive, so protecting it is essential.

Representative Fallah told chainsaw timber dealers over the weekend, that there will be no sustained socio-economic and livelihood growth among community dwellers within forest regions if laws governing the sector are not enforced.

"Our government and partners in our forest industry, civil society including private sector should be under obligation to take initiatives in strengthening the forest governance process and sustainability," Representative Fallah said at the first national retreat of the Liberia Chainsaw and Timber Dealers in Ganta, Nimba County.

According to him, timbers and chainsaw dealers currently rely on the forest to trade materials which are important to the ongoing development process.

Rep. Fallah also wants the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other institutions concerned with the forest sector to provide capacity building opportunities that will inform chainsaw and timber dealers on the protection of the forest.

He said training initiative will enable chainsaw and timber dealers operating in various counties to help track down possible log smugglers intending to exploit government of needed revenues.

The Montserrado County District #5 Representative noted that providing training for chainsaw and timber dealers would serve as an opportunity to improve the production capacity of domestic finished timber for local market consumption.

While he looks forward for capacity building opportunity for the sector, Rep. Fallah emphasized the need for critical assessment to be carried out on sustenance of chainsaw milling in Liberia.

"There should be long and short-term plan of action for the purpose of ensuring a legal trade of timber products within and between Liberia and its neighbors," Fallah stated.

According to him, if the timber industry is protected legally, it will help to restore forest and address timber deficit on the local market.

The Montserrado County lawmaker also frowned on the attitude of some forest operators not honoring their part of the deal in line with social corporate responsibility to the communities that they are situated in.

Making remarks, Food and Agriculture Organization Country Representative, Mariatu Njie said FAO is committed to strengthening responsible agriculture and forest resource in Liberia through the adoption of best practices, sound policies and legal framework.

"FAO prioritizes support to increase human and institutional capacities in the public, private and civil society sectors to ensure long-term sustainable management of Liberia's natural resources," Madam Njie said.

She stated that FAO has been committed in strengthening forest governance and increasing legality through the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) since 2010.

Madam Njie furthered that medium enterprises can play an important role in strengthening forest governance and contributing to national socio-economic development.

She, however, expressed fear that forest governance may not be strengthened if the sector continues to face weak regulatory framework, limited access to legal and sustainable sources of material and lack of incentives for individuals to work collectively.

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